Univoice Weekly

Weekly News for the week of:
December 26, 2021


Christmas Eve Candle Lighting Service

Dec. 24, 2021 – 7:00 pm 

Join us for a Christmas Eve Service filled with music, readings, candle-lighting, and a message of light. Members and friends are invited to contribute to this evening’s offering online, through the giving app, or with a check. We are not accepting cash at this time, but onsite participants may place a check in the giving box in the social hall following the service.

Please plan to arrive or log on by 6:45 pm to enjoy the holiday gathering music, and, for those on zoom, to establish a connection before worship is scheduled begins. Zoom participant mics are muted throughout the service.

To attend onsite, submit proof of vaccination by Thursday, Dec. 23rd at Noon. Proof of vaccination (photo) only needs to be submitted once to vaccination@uuberks.org. Masking, except for worship leaders when they are speaking, is required. On site attendance is most appropriate for people who do not have household contact with anyone who is unvaccinated or are immunocompromised.  

To attend by Zoom, click on this link: uuberks.org/zoom-worship. (If this is the first time you’re using zoom, you may be prompted to download a launcher app).

To connect by phone (audio only):
   1) Dial the phone number: 1-646-558-8656
   2) When prompted for the “Meeting ID”, enter: 999-805-145-23#
   3) When prompted for the “Participant ID”, enter: #

Christmas Eve Musical Menagerie

We are happy to announce that the “UU Christmas Eve Musical Menagerie” will be playing at this year’s Christmas Eve Service!!!
We will meet in the Gerber Room Meeting Room at 6:20 to take instruments out of the cases and then go outside the church to play at 6:40pm. If we have rainy weather, we may play under cover in the parking garage across the street. 
If you plan on playing, please text or email Kent Gutzler at 610-780-5162 or kgutzler@goberkscounty.com
with your email and what instrument you will play. Music will be sent via email.

This Sunday:

December 26 is traditionally known as “Second Christmas.” It is celebrated as Boxing Day and the Feast of St. Stephen. It also marks the beginning of Kwanzaa.



Tonight – FRIDAY

5 PM:

  • For this week’s story.  We get to revel in the Joy of Anticipation… with four different versions of The Night Before Christmas.  
  • The Night Before Christmas – narrated by Perry Como
  • The PA Dutch Night Before Christmas – by Chet Williamson
  • ‘Twas the Night B’fore Christmas: An African-American Version by Melodye Benson Rosales
  • Cajun Night Before Christmas told by Jules d’Hemmecourt
  • Christmas Eve: LIGHT, White candle

    Read aloud: Tonight, we light the first four candles of the Advent wreath for hope, peace, joy, and love. We also light a fifth candle, which is white and placed at the center of the Advent wreath. This candle reminds us of the light that Jesus brought to the world through his life and teachings. May the light of these Advent candles inspire us to bring more hope, more peace, more joy, more love, and more light to the world.

6:40 PM:

  • Music and Merriment – hope to see you online or onsite for worship filled with the Joy of the Season! (And cookies!!!)  


At home in your own time


    • For All: Join us in learning about Second Christmas and Good King Wenceslas. 
    • Coloring Sheet:  Good King Wenceslas coloring page to fill as we hear the tale. 
    • Use a printed or hand labyrinth to find renewal as you attend worship this morning. Here’s a labyrinth you can print out and trace.  Labyrinth Printable
    • Youth Group (7th grade & up): next meeting 3rd week of January 


 Office is closed week between Christmas and New Years – See you on Jan 4th! Tonight – FRIDAY



Worship service  for Jan. 2 will be online only (no onsite service). The Jan. 2 service is being hosted by the UU Church of Lehigh Valley, led by Pastor Madelyn Campbell. Details and sign on links will be provided in the weekly news.



Important Update on Congregational Singing


Beginning Sunday Dec. 19, we will resume congregational singing – masked. We know that music and singing nurture our hearts and minds. In making this decision, we have taken into account the Church’s Covid precautions already in place, which include required vaccination, universal masking, and enhanced ventilation. We do encourage members and friends to consider their own comfort levels and make an informed decision about whether to participate online or onsite.



A Message From The Church Office:


Our Church office will be closed for the Holidays beginning on 12/24/21. Our office will open again on January 4th.



FUUBC Food Bank Coordinator & Volunteers Needed!


The food bank that FUUBC organizes on the first Thursday morning of every month at the parking lot located on 5th and Cherry streets, needs more volunteers, including for the coordinator role. This is a great opportunity to help in our community and engage with people from diverse backgrounds ! 

Coordinator role – Brian Kammerer needs to step down from this job, but there will be opportunities to shadow him and get extensive training if you are interested in helping in this way. The responsibilities require approximately 4-6 volunteer hours per month, with most of that time needed for the food distribution day.

Tasks* include: 

  • transporting tables, chairs, and other items to the site at 8am
  • managing volunteers that morning, and clean-up. 
  • ordering food online and filling out paperwork for Healthy Harvest (who provides the food and oversees operations)
  • making other purchases for materials as needed (with provided funds)
  • other communication with church staff/leaders. Spanish skills are a plus. 

*Note: It might be possible for other volunteers to help with one or more of these tasks, so please let us know what you are capable of doing for this role

Other volunteers are needed asap on the day of food distribution for food setup, distribution of food, registration and communication with recipients (Spanish fluency would be helpful), and clean-up. Training will be provided.
Contact the Ministry and Operations Team (g.ministry.and.operations@uuberks.org) with questions or to volunteer. Or speak with Tonya Wenger or Rev. Dr. Sandra Fees.



Contemplative Companions – January 3rd, 2022


Join us on Monday January 3rd, @ 7:00pm. Together we will acknowledge the gradual shifting of the light as we enter a new year. Contact Nadine Smet-Weiss (njw1258@hotmail.com or 484-333-4015) for further information or to receive the zoom link for these gatherings.



ADORE Listening Cafe 
January 7th at 7pm


Unfortunately we had to postpone our December Listening Cafe due to a family emergency of our scheduled presenter. Michelle Williams will be with use for our January 7th meeting. We will focus on the problem of homelessness and housing insecurity in communities of color.

We invite all in our community to listen with an open heart, to ask questions and to share your stories at the Adore Listening Café, and, please, encourage friends and family to join in the dialog.




Mark Your Calendars


Our FUUBC 2022 Service Auction is on Saturday, February19th @ 6 PM.  Following social distancing recommendations, our auction will be conducted fully online like last year.  We will be using the same online auction website to host the silent auction for the week before & after, and Zoom to conduct the live auction on Saturday night. If you would like to volunteer to help or have a question/suggestion, send us an email at g.service.auction@uuberks.org. Many thanks from the Service Auction Committee. Watch the Univoice for additional information.



Please view our updated gathering policy below


Effective November 21, 2021 until further notice




Our Giving App has Changed


Vanco, the eGiving provider behind our church’s GivePlus Mobile app is now using a new online giving app, Vanco Mobile. This easy-to-use app replaces the GivePlus Mobile app you currently use to make your donations.   The switch is simple!  

  • Your log-in credentials are the same in Vanco Mobile as in GivePlus Mobile 
  • Recurring created through GivePlus mobile will continue as scheduled  
  • New gifts, or changes to previously scheduled recurring gifts, can now occur through Vanco Mobile 

Download the free Vanco Mobile app today in the Google Play store or the Apple App store. Find our organization by searching for First Unitarian Universalist Church or by its invite code, 2S4C9G.   



UU  Berks Websites 


Our church has 2 websites: one is public and one is private. Anyone on the Internet can access our public website at uuberks.org, but you have to be a member of our congregation to access the private UUBerks Member Info site at member-info.uuberks.org. Access is restricted, so you need to login with your email address & password.

Our public website has a lot of information that is also useful for members. Did you know that we record a video of every worship service and post them on our website? 

To find the recordings, navigate to uuberks.org. At the top of the page, there is a green box on the right side of the screen, with the title “Next Service”. (A) If you click on the next line of text (the title of the next service), you will be taken to a page with all the information about that service, like the Zoom meeting details. 

At the bottom of the green box, there is a “Service Archive” button. (B) Click on it to navigate to a page listing all of our previous services.  Click on a service title to see more details about the service and to view the video recording.



Are you having trouble connecting to Zoom services?


We have established a Zoom service tech line if you are having trouble logging into our Sunday service. If you do not get an immediate answer, leave a message and your call will be returned momentarily.Dial 484-925-1684.



Opening to Joy

From Sandra’s Study by Rev. Dr. Sandra Fees

Even a wounded world is feeding us. Even a wounded world holds us, giving us moments of wonder and joy. I choose joy over despair. Not because I have my head in the sand, but because joy is what the earth gives me daily and I must return the gift.

Robin Wall Kimmerer

Joy exists even in a hurting world. This month we are exploring how we open to joy. Joy isn’t a static state that we arrive at. Instead it’s an experience we encounter when we stop and notice wonder, when we notice the gifts that the earth offers us on a regular basis. How can we do better at being captivated by joy every single day in some small way?

Designer and author, Ingrid Fetell Lee, encourages the simple practice of “Joyspotting.” Joyspotting is paying attention and savoring images and experiences of joy. Keeping a joy notebook is a great way to engage this practice.

Take a moment right now as you read this to bring to mind one joy from today. My list (because why stop at just one joyful moment?!) includes:

  • Playing laser lights with my cat Belle.
  • Lunch with a friend.
  • Leaves of many colors.
  • Sun streaming through clouds.
  • Receiving a note of appreciation.
  • Snuggling in front of the fire.
  • Laughter.
  • Twinkle lights.

I hope this month you’ll take a little time to identify at least one joy every day. What an incredible gift that would be to yourself. What a meaningful way to honor the gifts of this earth.

I wish you many moments of joy in this holiday season.

With love,

Rev. Sandra

Do You Hear What I Hear?

A note from your Director of Music, 

This month our collective focus at UUBerks is exploring ways in which our times call us to “Open to Joy.”  

Certainly the music of this month often resounds with Joy.  A lot of songs tell us to be joyful “Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice Greatly!” Handel wrote.  He also has that lasting ditty “Hallelujah.” There’s more recent additions to the Christmas season cannon wishing everyone “Happy Holidays,” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” and have us scurrying all about in Jingle Bells’s scene of “dashing through the snow!” 

Sometimes though, all of this expected merry making is just a bit overwhelming.  Sometimes my heart grows three times smaller and more closed off as we are told to be joyful when … insert awful personal, local or global tragedy here … and the Christmas machine keeps humming. 

But there are quieter songs, sadder songs, wishful and wistful songs too.  Songs like “River” by Joni Mitchell, hymns like Still, Still, Still, or sneakier songs with joy and sorrow like Judy Garland’s classic recording of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” 

It’s songs like these that help me reopen to joy after the sonic joyful onslaught of tinsel and jubilation.  What do you hear in the songs of the season? Do you hear the reindeer approaching?  Do you hear the joy?  Does what you hear help you reopen to joy? I hope so. 

joy is . . .

nadine j. smet-weiss

spiritual director

a hidden jewel 

buried deep 

in our 

human hearts

ever ready

to refract

the delight

of our being

joy surprises








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